Is the Final Horizon brighter for Sonic Frontiers?

Our Gaming Sub-Editor takes a look at the final update to the Blue Blur's latest 3D adventure!

Adam Lovegrove
18th October 2023
Image: Youtube, @Sonic The Hedgehog
A year on from the release of Sonic’s first foray into the open-world genre, SEGA have released the game’s final post launch update: The Final Horizon. It intended to fix the game’s lackluster ending, but how effective has it been?

Many fans were left dissapointed by Sonic Frontiers’ original finale, mainly for it’s underwhelming final boss and a failure to incorporate Sonic’s friends into the third act. In an attempt to rectify that, Sonic Team have given us a complete rework of the game’s final island, providing us with an alternate ending to the adventure.

"Fans can finally play as Sonic's friends in a 3D Sonic game for the first time since 2006!"

Tails, Knuckles and Amy are given the task of collecting the Chaos Emeralds, meaning that fans can finally play as Sonic's friends in a 3D Sonic game for the first time since 2006! Amy uses her tarot cards to battle and platform, Knuckles retains his iconic glide and climb, and Tails utilises a range of gadgets, including his mech from Sonic Adventure 2 which allows him to soar across the island with (maybe a little too much) ease. While these characters definitely have their problems – including awkward controls and underdeveloped combat systems – simply having them playable after so long was a joy in itself for me.

Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles and Sage looking at Dr. Eggman
Image: X, @sonicstadium

While his friends scavenge for the Emeralds, Sonic trains to harness his cyber corruption and convert it into power, requiring you to climb a series of towers and complete some brutal trials that push both Sonic’s platforming and combat abilities to the limit. It won't be for everyone, but for those who were looking for a greater challenge in the main campaign, this update is for you. In particular, the Master King’s Trial feels like a big slap in the face from Sonic Team to everyone who called the original game too easy. That’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

The highlight of the update for me was the new Cyberspace stages, which contain heavily remixed layouts of previous levels. To me, this is what Cyberspace should have always been: a trippy and surreal landscape of chaotically scattered objects and pathways that feel dreamlike and almost randomly generated in nature. They all contain a solid balance of challenge and spectacle, and introduce some cool new gimmicks to the table, from rocket boost capsules to low-gravity physics.

Amy using her Card Float ability
Image: X, @sonicstadium

I was left dissapointed, however, with the new and upgraded Guardian battles. While these enemies are definitely tougher in this update, I find some of them have lost their individuality in the process. Spider is now without it's skydiving section; Tank no longer assaults you with sandstorms; and Caterpillar's grind rails are completely cut out. I appreciate the attempt to make them more challenging, but the lack of variety leaves me disencouraged to return to them for anything more than Portal Gears.

"Sonic almost feels like a completely different character here, achieving levels of badassery never seen before."

The main attraction however is the new final boss, where Sonic combines the Chaos Emeralds with this newfound Cyber Energy, transforming into a brand new form. The fight is surprisingly challenging due to Sonic’s new “Perfect Parry” ability, while also providing some of the most hype moments in the history of the franchise. Sonic almost feels like a completely different character here, achieving levels of badassery never seen before. Kellin Quinn’s all-new rendition of the main theme “I’m Here” completes the package, and the fight reaches an insane climax that harkens back to Sonic X of all things, wrapping up what might be my favourite final boss in Sonic history.

Super Sonic flying with a Titan in the background
Image: X, @sonicstadium

The Final Horizon is a vast improvement on the base game’s ending for me, despite some issues I have with the new playable characters and Guardian battles. It’s nice to see SEGA listening to criticism this time, and hopefully some of these ideas see a return in Sonic’s next adventure.

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